Merkel to Push EU-Turkey Refugee Accord at This Week's Summit

  • Chancellor warns against proposals that would close borders
  • Merkel sets aside resettlement plans as EU leaders bicker

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is counting on a deal between the European Union and Turkey to stem the flow of refugees to the region, while warning against border closures within the 28-country bloc.

Merkel will push fellow EU leaders to back her approach at a summit in Brussels later this week, the chancellor told reporters Tuesday after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin. Some of the EU’s eastern members want a “Plan B” in place by April that would seal Greece’s borders to Macedonia and Bulgaria should a deal with Turkey fail, underlining divisions within the bloc.

“I’ll put all my strength on Thursday and Friday into ensuring that the European-Turkish approach turns out to be the way that’s worth going,” Merkel said. She rejected calls to close Greece’s northern border with Macedonia, saying it would threaten the so-called Schengen area, which allows for the free movement of people and goods among a number of European countries.

Merkel, who has maintained her open-door policy for refugees, is prodding the EU to reach a deal with Turkey and better control its outer borders to stem the flow of asylum seekers coming from Syria and other war-torn areas. The bloc has failed to implement a plan backed by Germany, which took in more than 1 million migrants last year, to distribute refugees throughout out the bloc and share the financial burden.

The chancellor said the summit this week won’t be about agreeing on new quotas to distribute refugees given the failure thus far of the first effort to do so.

“We would be making fools of ourselves,” she said.

More than 76,000 migrants and refugees have crossed from the shores of Turkey to Greek islands so far this year, up from less than 5,000 in the same period in 2015, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency.

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